Coalition Airstrikes Move to Block Transfer of ISIS Fighters, Civilians

Aug 31, 2017, 01:36
Coalition Airstrikes Move to Block Transfer of ISIS Fighters, Civilians

US troops reportedly exchanged fire with Syrian rebels in northern Syria this month, Reuters reported on Tuesday, citing the USA -led coalition.

Nasrallah said it was a Hezbollah deal agreed upon by the Syrian leadership, that the fighters were few in number, and were being moved from one front Hezbollah was fighting in to another.

On Wednesday the Lebanese army said its head General Joseph Aoun had been phoned by the commander of U.S. Central Command Joseph Votel congratulating him on the offensive and pledging to continue arming Lebanon's army. A spokesman for the coalition said it might go further and bomb the convoy itself if it carried on towards Iraq.

USA officials have criticized the transfer of hundreds of militants and civilians who are bound for an IS-held area near the Iraqi border, saying the extremists should be killed on the battlefield. Airstrikes also hit a separate group of IS militants traveling to meet the convoy, according to Col. Ryan Dillon, a coalition spokesman. Lebanese officials say they are nearly sure they are.

The battles ended Sunday with the announcement of the deal to bus IS forces hundreds of kilometres from Syria's western border with Lebanon to its eastern frontier with Iraq.

The United States-led coalition struck targets in Syria Tuesday in a bid to block buses transporting Daesh (ISIS) fighters and families heading to the country's east as part of an evacuation deal to leave the Lebanese-Syrian border area.

Col. Ryan Dillan, a spokesman for the USA -led alliance against the militants, says "we are monitoring their location in real time". The Iraqi government condemned the move as "unacceptable" and threatening to Iraq because the ISIS fighters will now be in the Euphrates valley and can easily move to ISIS controlled areas near al-Qaim in Iraq's Anbar province.

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He says the coalition has already bombed a small bridge to obstruct the convoy.

According to the deal, around 600 terrorists and family members have now left Lebanon and crossed the border into eastern Syria.

ISIS agreed to a ceasefire on two fronts on the Lebanon-Syria border region with the Lebanese army on one front and Hezbollah and the Syrian army on the other, ending a week-long confrontation.

Dillan said "we are not party to any agreements that were made by the Lebanese Hezbollah and ISIS or the (Syrian) regime".

Recent negotiations between Bashar al-Assad's regime and the Islamic State group resulted in an agreement that will see IS fighters transferred from the Lebanon-Syria border to Deir az-Zour, which borders Iraq.

The evacuation agreement, the first such publicized deal, had already angered many Iraqis who accused Syria and Lebanon's Hezbollah of dumping the militants on the Iraqi border rather than eradicating them.

"Irreconcilable ISIS terrorists should be killed on the battlefield, not bused across Syria to the Iraqi border without Iraq's consent", tweeted US Special Envoy for Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS, Brett McGurk, who also spoke for the coalition's efforts under the Obama administration.